Food for thought

An effective and convenient weight loss platform, Nutrisystem provides everything customers need to accomplish and sustain their weight management goals, delivered right to their doors

A preeminent direct-to-consumer nutrition and weight management brand, Nutrisystem has helped millions of people lose weight safely and effectively for almost 50 years. The company’s portfolio of entrées, snacks, and shakes is Nutrisystem acomplemented by various live counselling options, including trained weight loss coaches, registered dietitians and certified diabetes educators that are available seven days a week.

Anyone starting a weight loss journey is looking to make some improvements to their life, and indeed, Nutrisystem itself has also been through some dynamic changes since it was last featured in Supply Chain World. In December 2018, Tivity Health announced that it would acquire the Nutrisystem brand, and just a few months after that deal was completed, it saw another evolution when, in December 2020, Kainos Capital took over the brand.

As David Burton, Chief Operating Officer, explained, Nutrisystem saw this as an opportunity to become a standalone business again and is very excited that Kainos Capital is the private equity firm that ultimately decided to go ahead with the purchase. “Kainos Capital is focused exclusively on the food and consumer industry, and its vision is to develop a world class direct-to-consumer e-commerce health and wellness platform. We are focused on expanding our digital capabilities and also on our product innovation to reach more consumers and help them on their health and wellness journey.

“We are just in the beginning stages of the partnership, but we are very excited that we are now part of a firm that really understands the food industry, and the health and wellness space. We are looking at an opportunity to leverage the shift in the industry to e-commerce and direct-to-consumer, and how we can build a platform that helps us reach more consumers in the industry.”

The customers that David refers to come to Nutrisystem to benefit from its balanced and clinically proven approach to weight loss. It offers portion-controlled foods specifically designed to meet consumer needs that are conveniently delivered directly to customers’ homes. Nutrisystem also provides a free digital app, NuMi, that helps customers track performance and achieve their goals. “We have a great solution that helps individuals lose weight, help them get healthier, stay active and improve their health outcomes,” added David.

Clearly a resilient business, Nutrisystem hasn’t been distracted by the changes it has been through and has maintained a high level of activity and of growth in 2020. “We have gone through changes of ownership, but our mission and vision remain the same and that is to help individuals to live happier, healthier, lives,” agreed David. “Over the past year, especially with the pandemic and the challenges of Covid-19, health and wellness is top of mind for consumers. As the largest direct-to-consumer health and wellness company in the country, we have seen tremendous double-digit customer growth over the past year, and they are staying with us longer. That gives us strong momentum as we head into 2021.”

David identified one of the big contributors to Nutrisystem’s success has been an alteration in how it is reaching its consumers. “Historically, Nutrisystem has been heavily focused on TV advertising but we are seeing a shift in the industry where digital marketing and advertising are playing a more significant role,” he explained. “We have been investing heavily in digital platforms, and we have focused on a digital transformation of our business, really looking at how we can better target and reach our consumers. This has also included improving our consumer database platform (CDP) and our messaging through digital channels, and this has been a big contributor to driving our growth.”Nutrisystem b

The second big focus for Nutrisystem has been on adapting its product range, and as David highlighted, this began two years ago, when the business launched a program focused on personalization. “We know that one size does not fit all when it comes to weight management and weight loss products, so we are creating a program that is more personalized to each consumer, based on their lifestyle, their food preferences and their body type.

“By introducing that, we have been able to have a more effective program that helps our customers on their weight loss journey. Each year, as part of our product pipeline, we introduce more elements and features around that personalization, which are delivered through our food development program and also through our NuMi App.”

The App that David referred to gives customers the ability to track their own program, weight loss and activity, and it also provides content around lifestyle changes and how they can adapt the Nutrisystem way of dieting into their own lifestyle. “All of those digital options have resulted in an increased level of engagement from the customer, and ultimately, this means that they are getting better results and achieving their health outcomes. They lose more weight, are learning how to keep it off, and they are seeing more success.”

While it is clear that Nutrisystem has thrived in 2020, what makes that success even more impressive is the fact that it was achieved at the same time as the company, and the world, had to cope with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. David admitted that there was no single part of the organization that went unaffected by Covid-19 and gave some details about how the business has coped with the dramatic changes that the virus has wrought.

“First of all, I am very proud of the resiliency of our business through this pandemic, as we had to adapt quickly and the reactions have been excellent,” he stated. “We shifted our messaging from a marketing standpoint, we introduced working from home and through all that we have still seen great growth.

“Specifically, from a supply chain standpoint, there have been challenges across every link, including food manufacturing, fulfilment and transportation. Thanks to the relationships and partnerships that we have established, and the amazing reactions from everyone, while there were disruptions, we have been able to pivot, reallocate and redirect resources where necessary, such as shipping volume from to one geographical area to another. This meant that when one part of the supply chain was under pressure then there were other parts that were able to alleviate it. It really was a balancing act of having open communication across all of our partnerships and working through those challenges every day.”

Having referred to the essential role that its close supplier relationships played in dealing with the new demands on the supply chain, David elaborated further on what Nutrisystem looks for in a partnership. “Having a shared value in keeping the customer at center is really important. We need to have the same vision around meeting consumer needs when it comes to health and wellness. We always ask, ‘how can we collectively work together to try and solve some of the health challenges that we have in our country?’ Every part of the Supply Chain plays a role in serving the customer on a daily basis.

“Another key aspect is common goals and making sure that from each side of the partnership there is an understanding of what we are trying to accomplish and make sure our goals line up with each other. This means that we have a lot of openness and transparency with our suppliers when it comes to developing new products or operating plans, and I think as long as we are all working towards that common shared goal and those shared values then it’s mutually beneficial for us.”

David also explained the symbiotic relationship between Nutrisystem, its customers and its partners, as it is more than simply ordering and delivering a product. “Weight loss is a very emotional journey, and it is a tremendous decision for people to embark on a weight loss program,” he said. “We want to make sure that we are helping to get them on board as quickly as possible, so it is very important that we are able to process orders, and deliver them to the consumer as fast as we can. Our delivery capabilities in a direct-to-consumer model are extremely important, and our partner FedEx is tremendous in this area. One of our key goals is to continue to improve that delivery experience with the consumer, and we can’t do that without partnerships such as those we have with FedEx and also with our 3PL, Geodis.”

Having highlighted the importance of prompt and reliable deliveries, David then stressed that this is only one part of its interactions with customers, and a key priority for Nutrisystem is to continuously improve its customer experience from end to end. “We are introducing innovation in the supply chain, and one part of this is the implementation of a new demand supply planning system from John Galt Solutions, and the focus there is to give us better visibility and collaboration across the supply chain around our demand supply planning. That in itself is going to improve the customer experience, because it helps us make sure we have the right product, in the right location, in the right quantities.

“We will also continue to look at automation within the warehouse, as our business grows and with some of the current labor challenges of the market, we need to look at how we can improve our efficiency in the warehousing and fulfilment of our orders. We are in the beginning phase of exploring different levels of automation to help us in that process.

“Lastly, we are examining how we can better utilize the data that we are collecting on our customers to achieve their tailored offering, and how that impacts not only their experience through our app and website but also ultimately in the products that we develop and deliver for them. We want to mine that data and really understand the consumer at a deeper level so that we can deliver on that personalized experience.”

The direct-to-consumer system adopted by Nutrisystem has been very successful but that doesn’t mean it is the only way that customers can purchase its products – they are also stocked by a range of retailers and David describes its omni-channel approach as one that has been evolving and developing over the past three to four years. “We wanted provide an infrastructure that enabled us to support consumers wherever they are on their journey and wherever they are shopping,” he said. “So, we have built core capabilities to support all of our online retailers, including amazon.com, walmart.com, target.com and kroger.com, and we wanted to make sure that as the industry and consumers shift how and where they are purchasing and consuming products, we are supporting retailers in how they serve their customers. We were the first dropship vendor that partnered with Walmart to deliver frozen food, and I think that was a great accomplishment. We were able to help Walmart and their consumers in providing that capability and the infrastructure to fulfil and deliver product on their behalf.”

Nutrisystem’s superlative delivery model also came into its own during the pandemic when it was able to come to the aid of people who were struggling to keep themselves nourished. “With our partnership with Tivity Health we were able to support those people that were finding access to food a challenge, especially seniors, and we continue to do that post divesture,” said David. “We are supporting health plans and local agencies that are focused on delivering and providing Nutrisystem cfood for those in need. While our primary business is focused on weight loss and weight management, we are able to provide nutritious meals for those individuals that are food insecure.”

This caring approach to the community is part of a wider social responsibility remit, and David was able to reveal a newly launched product that is part of Nutrisystem’s green agenda. “We have introduced an eco-friendly cooler as part of our initiative to improve sustainability, which uses environmentally-friendly packaging materials,” he said. The new coolers are biodegradable up to 92 percent over a four-year period, and are made with thermally robust materials, and can be reused or repurposed. The coolers are part of Nutrisystem’s commitment to reducing the environmental impact of its products and the company is excited about their launch. “It is something new for us and it is an investment that we made because we felt that it was the right thing for the environment,” David added.

As we start the New Year, Nutrisystem continues to concentrate on improving its performance, using the lessons it has learned through 2020 to make sure that is it operating effectively across all levels of the organization. “From a food standpoint, we continue to enhance and build our frozen and cold chain capabilities, and I think one of the key learnings we discovered was that we needed to have more redundancy across our supply chain,” said David. “At the beginning of the pandemic we had a bit of redundancy which definitely shielded and protected us from any major disruptions, but through the past nine months we realized there is an opportunity to increase that redundancy and to take even more pressure off and have more contingency plans in place. So, as we head into 2021 that has been a focus – looking at the areas of the supply chain where we need more redundancy and contingency, and actively putting those in place.”

These activities are being undertaken alongside work on a new premium line of frozen products, the introduction of new programs and a continuing focus on personalization, as well as other ways to improve that all important customer experience. “We are looking to launch those over the next six months, and they all have an impact on the supply chain and our fulfilment. So, we are also examining how we are designed across our network to make sure we are able to deliver that. As we integrate with Kainos Capital and really focus on driving better experience, we will continue to build and focus on all these areas and more!” David concluded.

Nutrisystem
www.nutrisystem.com
Services: Commercial provider of weight loss products and services

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HT a

Understand and deliver

One of the UK’s largest independently owned logistics companies, Howard Tenens provides flexible, tailor-made supply chain solutions across a diverse range of sectors

For Howard Tenens, everything starts with integrity and transparency. According to the company’s CEO, Jamie Hartles, it is this honest, uncomplicated approach to business that differentiates the firm from its competition.

“From an ethos perspective, we always do what we say we will,” he states. “When we make a commitment, we fulfil it and we invest time, effort, and capital in our relationships to make sure they are long-term. We don’t provide prices to undercut the market simply to secure new business and we always seek partnership relationships over transactional ones. As a company, we are very selective in the business we undertake and will always ensure there is mutual value in everything we do, whether that be with employees, suppliers or customers.”

With roots dating back to 1953, Howard Tenens is a family company with various business interests but is primarily focused on commercial property ownership and third-party logistics services. In 1983, perhaps the biggest year in the company’s history, Howard Tenens’ Chairman and majority shareholder Peter Morris completed one of the UK’s first management buyouts, purchasing the firm and making it a privately-owned business. Still a private company today, Peter’s sons, Ben and Dan, are now actively involved with Howard Tenens, providing added continuity to the operation and further solidifying its credentials as a family organization.

“Even today, in 2020, we still have some of the original customers that Peter brought with him in 1983,” Jamie reveals. “Clients stay with Howard Tenens because of our partnership approach to business and commitment to mutual value. As a privately-owned firm, we are not under the same pressure to grow as a listed company. This means we can expand organically and sustainably in collaboration with our customers and not sacrifice service or safety by overreaching.”

Favoring a bricks and mortar approach to business, Howard Tenens has always strived to own the properties from which it runs its logistics operation. The freehold commercial property portfolio has now grown to over four million square feet of warehouse space across the UK, and not only gives the company great flexibility when serving customers, but also represents a robust financial foundation, enabling the firm to invest in future growth. The logistics side of the business occupies around one third of the company’s owned warehouse space, with the remaining two thirds being rented to external clients as storage and commercial parking.

Serving customers across a broad spectrum of industries, including fast moving consumer goods, automotive parts, linens and medical scrubs, white goods, and construction and industrial products, Howard Tenens is a company unafraid to prove its worth to new clients. “Typically, customers start by giving us a smaller, more challenging aspect of their supply chain, but soon enough they realize we deliver where others fail. That’s when customers entrust us with additional work,” Jamie explains. “Our team try really hard to understand a customer’s requirements and ensure the solutions being implemented are as safe and efficient as possible. Our promise to provide exceptional service means we are not just storing a product and distributing it but undertaking value-added services to increase profit for the customer in question.”

Challenging conventions
Though the majority of its business comes from the food and drink sector, Howard Tenens is guided by customer demand and has recently experienced a significant increase in e-commerce activity. The agile nature of the firm means it remains open to change and is always prepared to adapt.

“At the moment, we have no plans to expand into other sectors, but it really depends on the client and requirement,” Jamie says. “If a customer asks for support in a new sector, we will always provide a solution for them.

“We are fortunate to work with numerous household names and blue-chip brands who come to us seeking value for money and great service. Our customers include companies like Honda, with whom we have established a strong relationship, built on trust. We serve every Honda dealership in the UK, every night, and the company provides us with keys and codes to its locations, knowing it can rely on us to put stock away so that parts are available to workshops in the morning.

“We also service Lavazza Professional on a dedicated, high quality coffee network,” he adds. “We have large alcohol duty bonded sites in the south east and south west providing flexible storage solutions to cater for the large seasonal peaks HT bof the beer industry. Across the board, we are increasingly encountering e-commerce online retailers who need solutions requiring heavy capital investment in conveyor systems, which we are happy to support.”

At the heart of Howard Tenens’ offering is the company’s ability to work in partnership with a client to deliver customizable solutions that challenge convention, while proving good value for money. Whether it’s a first-time outsource or a transfer from a third-party provider, the firm boasts a proud track record of creating open dialogue in its collaboration with clients, committing itself to learn as much as possible about its customers. Jamie suggests that the company’s work with Mole Valley Farmers is a particularly good example of the way in which Howards Tenens operates.

Bespoke scheme
“It was clear from the first meeting that Mole Valley Farmers was going to be an excellent cultural fit for us. The company is committed to ensuring greater choice and protecting farming members from the impact of fewer suppliers and the threat of higher costs,” he asserts. “They also aim to offer superior levels of customer service and the widest range of keenly priced, quality products.

“Mole Valley has grown significantly over the last few years and wanted a consolidated national distribution center, with a transport solution that ensured high-quality service levels. We have worked closely with the company since then and have now implemented a bespoke logistics scheme, servicing their store estate across the UK and making sure on-shelf availability remains high.”

As we move towards the halfway point of 2020, (at time of writing), Coronavirus continues to present challenges for businesses across the world. Due to the diversity of its customer base, and the vital nature of its work, Howard Tenens has remained operational throughout the pandemic, employing a number of initiatives to help mitigate the risks to its workforce.

“First and foremost, our focus has been on our people and keeping our amazing employees safe,” Jamie declares. “This has meant investment in personal protective equipment and significantly enhanced cleaning and hygiene standards. We are committed to ensuring that the people who work at Howard Tenens are kept in the loop, especially those working from home, and that the health of all our employees is protected as much as possible whilst they fulfil their important role as key workers.”

Environmental credentials
Though the company’s two-person vending machine delivery and installation service has been forced to shut down - Howard Tenens has offered an enhanced financial package to furloughed employees on the Government Job Retention Scheme - some areas of the business are not only operating, but thriving.

“Online retail is very busy,” Jamie reports. “We have supported our customers by either increasing resources to cope with such a large and sustained uplift in volume, or by helping them pivot their offering from a storefront solution to one based in e-commerce.

“There has also been an increase in demand for warehouse space, the finding of which is one of our key specialisms. Our Property Division has exceptional contacts in the marketplace, which means we have access to flexible areas that may already be let to other tenants, as well as vacant spaces on our own estate.

“It’s a two-sided process though, and huge thanks must go to all of our clients who have helped us through this unprecedented time. Where we have had to review a commercial arrangement, we have received support from our customers, large and small, and will continue to work in partnership with them to evolve the solutions we provide until we arrive at a new normal.”

What exactly the new normal will be, nobody yet knows, but Howard Tenens has already got its eyes on the future. The company recently signed a six-year lease for Neptune Works, a 145,000 ft² warehouse in Newport, taking its overall number of commercial sites to 18. The firm has also received planning permission for the development of further locations, totaling approximately 600,000ft².

“Where we own the land and the site, we typically commission the facilities ourselves,” Jamie remarks. “The size and layout of the warehouse will vary, but typically, we make them as versatile as we can, with plenty of access and exit points and as much height as feasible, given the build parameters.

“All our new buildings are constructed to an extremely high standard, ensuring maximum natural light, and where possible, environmental features such as ground source heat pumps and photovoltaic or motion-activated low energy LED lights. Having strong environmental credentials is important to us and so we work hard to ensure our buildings take that into consideration.”

Recognized on numerous occasions for its environmental work - including Gold Status in the company’s EcoVadis CSR Supplier Evaluation - Howard Tenens remains a leader in sustainable logistics. An early adopter of dual-fuel vehicles, the firm operates seven sites powered by solar energy, saving around 200 tons of CO2 every year. Over the next five years, Jamie expects to see more investment in sustainability initiatives, eco-friendly technology, and automation as Howard Tenens pushes towards a target of £125,000,000 turnover. Having reported years of back-to-back growth – including a 20 per cent increase in turnover in 2018 – Jamie is confident that the current pandemic will not prevent the company from reaching its goal.

“Competition in the logistics market is fierce and Howard Tenens continues to be successful by hiring and retaining the best staff, who understand the firm’s objectives and work together for the betterment of each other and our customer base,” he proclaims. “The impact of COVID-19 will be far reaching and will undoubtedly change our habits and requirements for good, but Howard Tenens has weathered numerous economic storms before and is exceptionally well placed to come through this one where some of our competition might struggle. We will continue to invest in the business and our customers throughout this process and will emerge even stronger as a result.”

Howard Tenens Logistics Ltd
www.tenens.com
Specialty: A proactive logistics company, providing innovative solutions

AACPD 1

A team effort

Responsible for procuring supplies, materials, equipment and services for the county’s department and agency operations, Anne Arundel County’s Purchasing Division has risen to the challenge presented by Covid-19 in 2020 and helped to protect residents and businesses alike

Situated in the heart of Maryland – and home to the state capital of Annapolis – Anne Arundel County is home to more than 500,000 residents. With its rich heritage, close proximity to both Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and over 533 miles of coastline, Anne Arundel County is also a major hub of commerce and development, with an estimated $35 billion economy.

Since 1964, Anne Arundel County has had a charter form of government in accordance with State law, consisting of both a legislative branch – known as the County Council – and an executive branch that is headed by the County Executive.

The latter consists of a number of County Agencies and Departments, which themselves are supported by a network of Central Services divisions, whose collective goal is to provide the services and support needed to serve the county’s citizens. One of these is Anne Arundel County’s Purchasing Division.

A centralized agency, the Purchasing Division’s mission is to receive the best prices for the supplies, materials, equipment and services acquired, and it is also responsible for procuring all contracts for construction and consultant services. “Annually, our division procures goods and services totaling around $516 million, and we typically have anywhere from 100 to 200 active procurements ongoing across our team at any one time,” explains Anne Arundel County Purchasing Agent, Andrew Hime, CPSM. “Between us, our team of 26 staff – 18 of whom are primarily focused on active procurements – procure literally everything from pens, pencils and other stationery, to construction and building materials, and even helicopters. It is truly an all-encompassing list of goods and services that we pursue.”

All purchases of goods and services are made in accordance with the rules and regulations as specified within the Anne Arundel County Code and the terms outlined in its Purchasing Manual. Purchases up to $5000 require only a single quotation, while those up to $50,000 need three quotations confirmed in writing. Finally, purchases over $50,000 are to made following formal public solicitation.

Over the last several years, Andrew has helped to oversee the county’s Purchasing Division’s efforts to better streamline its operations in order to create added value. As part of this program of procurement reform, the division was tasked with achieving savings of $20 million within a five-year period, something which it managed to achieve ahead of time. Indeed, four-and-a-half years into this initiative, it is already tracking savings in excess of $22 million. This has been made possible through a number of key decisions taken, not least of all being the making of the procurement process fully digital in 2019.

“One of the key factors in bringing about the above has been our incorporation of leading practices from the commercial world into the public-sector procurement space, and applying these while adhering to the laws, rules and compliance AACPD 2regulations that exist therein,” Andrew continues. “For instance, we utilized elements from a number of European models in how we structured our category management framework and our team’s organization, as we found Europe to be very successful in implementing strategic procurement initiatives in the public-sector. So, one of the things I did when I came on-board was to hire a dedicated procurement Strategy Manager, as well as a procurement Category Management Manager to lead those critical operational requirements and to help develop our reform efforts. These roles are today held by Diana Cox and Dale Eutsler, respectively.”

The efforts of Anne Arundel County’s Purchasing Division come into particular focus when we turn our attentions to its response to the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. As Dale reveals, Andrew was somewhat ahead of the curve in considering the efforts that the division would perhaps have to make in light of this immense challenge. “Our initial conversations about Covid-19 actually took place back in January of 2020, with the issue coming into much starker focus in February,” he says. “It was then that I attended a conference in Dallas, Texas, for public and private partnerships, and it was clear from speaking with people there that this was a serious, global issue that we needed to get on top of, and Andrew was well aware of that. Indeed, he does a fantastic job of being aware of current events going on around the world, and that was one of the big things that allowed us to be best positioned to reach quickly and creatively in our response to Covid-19.”

As Andrew goes on to expand upon, utilizing creative procurement solutions has been absolutely vital in ensuring that Anne Arundel County was as well prepared for the virus as possible. “Covid-19 has really put into perspective how important it is to embrace creative procurement solutions in order to source products that are in immense demand, and have them delivered to those that need them,” he affirms. “By working throughout the supply chain – from cradle to grave – and having people actually on the ground, we are able to identify where supply is going to be prevalent and able to be distributed.”

Additionally, as the pandemic expanded drastically in March 2020, Andrew coordinated with the County’s P-Card Program provider J.P. Morgan to leverage the reliable County payment method as a way to expedite payment for lifesaving PPE equipment. Through the quick action of J.P. Morgan Commercial Banking, the County was able to increase program credit limits and get new cards issued for key purchasing personnel. According to Andrew; “In a time period where priority number one was to secure PPE, using our P-Card as a payment method verses a standard Purchase Order reduced the average payment cycle time from several days to a few hours. This was, and remains, a solid tool in our tool belt as we work through the pandemic.”

A few additional examples of the above come in the form of the Purchasing Divisions’ ability to source much sought after emergence response commodities, namely hand sanitizer, sanitizer pumps and face masks. “At the onset of the pandemic, we saw news reports on local distilleries in cities like Seattle that had pivoted their business in order to supply hand sanitizer when demand began to outstrip supply,” Andrew says. “This got me thinking, and it was around this time that I called up a local business called Gray Wolf Distillery to enquire as to whether this was something they would be prepared to do. Working also alongside the Maryland Distillers Guild – which coordinated local efforts for us – Gray Wolf Distillery set about producing hand sanitizer which we were able to source and distribute quickly throughout the county.”

Additionally, the County was able to replicate the supply of hand sanitizer with a personal care and cosmetic manufacturer, C-Care in Linthicum, Maryland. C-Care pivoted its general manufacturing operation and worked collaboratively with the County to source raw materials for making hand sanitizer, and even sourced smaller sized bottles for easy to transport pump stations.

“To support this rapid distribution, we were also able to source universal hand sanitation pumps from a company called Granger,” Dale adds. “Working with them resulted in a big process improvement, as we had found previously that around 80 per cent of the existing hand sanitation stations in the county were made by one proprietary manufacturer. The use of universal pumps also then meant that we could confidently go out and purchase hand sanitizer through multiple suppliers.”

When it came to the procurement of N95 face masks, again it required a creative and collaborative approach in order to source the supplies the county required in relatively short order. “For our procurement of masks, we had to take a diversified supplier approach, speaking with those we knew to see if they had contacts that could assist in the sourcing and delivery of N95 masks,” Andrew states. “It was through this that we were able to call on the support of valued partners like Ryan Millman and organizations such as Undigital to navigate the various hurdles we needed to overcome in order to get product out of markets such as China faster than anyone else.

“On a domestic front, we had two of our larger suppliers who consistently came through for us when supplies were scarce. Safeware has been, and remains, a key supplier for our front line operational needs of this pandemic. They continue to expend extra efforts day-in and day-out to provide insight on what we may be needing next. Additionally, Home Depot has also been extremely helpful in supporting our needs for cleaning products. As the EPA released new versions of the approved list of cleaning products that killed Covid-19, those products became difficult to source. When nobody could find regularly priced cleaning wipes, and resellers were trying to price over single cans of wipes, Home Depot came through for us with a truckload of cleaning spray and several pallets of paper towels.”

“If 2020 and Covid-19 has taught us anything it is of the importance of supply chain diversification,” Dale proclaims. “Yes, you will always need to have close, collaborative relationships with your largest suppliers who have huge catalogues, but you also need to know who your local and regional companies are who are going to be there for you and are able to perform reliably. In my opinion, this level of diversity within the supply chain is going to be all the more important in the future.”

What Andrew is also determined to convey is how tremendous a job the team at Anne Arundel County’s Purchasing Division has done in working through the unique challenge that Covid-19 has presented. “If you look at where we are as a county compared to some other jurisdictions, where they continue to have supply issues with PPE and the like, it is testament to the hard work, long days, sleepless nights and weekends that our people have put in for the benefit of Anne Arundel County and its residents.”

As Andrew rightly points out, it has clearly been a monumental team effort to achieve all that the Purchasing Division has done to date. One of those at the heart of said efforts has been Manager/Administrator Chanell Clemons. Among her various responsibilities, she assisted in supporting the initiative to procure life-saving PPE products, and therefore she is as best placed as anyone to speak of the strengths that the Purchasing Division has called upon in recent months. “In addition to our ability to work together as one strong team, we have been able to successfully use different methods of communication to collaborate and coordinate with numerous different vendors and suppliers, in order to identify and respond to both immediate and long-term procurement needs that are critical to our mission of slowing the spread of Covid-19,” Chanell says.

As Chanell goes on to correctly point out; “We are still in the midst of the pandemic, so we continue to work hard on a daily basis, but it has been extremely gratifying and rewarding to have played a major role to date in procuring the supplies needed to save lives and protect the people of our great county.”

Turning to one final point, this time on the future of procurement, Andrew points out that he believes that the world is now entering what he calls, a ‘golden age’ of procurement. “Procurement as a whole has really transformed over the last ten years or more, and has become such a vital tool in ensuring that operations run smoothly,” he says. “I believe that we are entering ma stage where it is so critical that people understand the complexity of supply chain management, the project management components that are required for that, and also the various financial aspects as well. Those are the things I focus on with my team, and I think the skill set of people in this industry is really growing at pace. It also means that as time goes by these people will grow in value as individuals, and that will only be a good thing for organizations and divisions such as our own.”

Anne Arundel County Purchasing Division
www.aacounty.org
Services: Procurement for Anne Arundel County

Nutrabolt a

Thunderous success

Recently named among the Top 100 Best Companies to Work for in Texas, Nutrabolt’s ability to build strong relationships has helped it become the leading sports nutrition business in the world

Like the sports nutrition drinks and powders for which the company is renowned, Nutrabolt is reliant on a number of key ingredients. Though each component is vital, it is really in combining the separate elements that the business has discovered a true recipe for success.

Grit and determination helped take the firm’s early products from small-town Texas to GNC stores nationwide, where its pre-workout brand, C4, and post-workout brand, Xtend, became popular mainstays in the sports nutrition market. Since featuring in Supply Chain World in 2016, Nutrabolt has been a ‘rocket ship of growth’, declares Vice President of Procurement, Brendan O’Toole.

“In the 24 months prior to Covid-19, our mix of products developed in line with changing consumer demand and shopping habits,” Brendan reports. “We have been building more of a digital presence, and whereas GNC and other distribution stores were previously our breadwinners, we have adapted how we operate from a supply chain performance standpoint. Nowadays, everyone wants to be in Walmart, everyone has to play with Amazon, and so we are becoming a true omnichannel partner.”

Along with the ability to reach more customers, the omnichannel approach has reduced risk for Nutrabolt, something that has been especially pertinent in 2020 with Covid-19 leading to the closure of many GNC stores across the US. This is why Brendan believes that, when it comes to the supply chain mix, volume and diversity are highly beneficial.

“If you are beholden or leveraged to a certain customer channel, it can create a dicey situation, and the same goes for the co-manufacturing side of our business. An omnichannel presence gives us a good solid mix and means we are not overly leveraged at any one site,” he states.

GNC’s bankruptcy was not the only issue Nutrabolt faced during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Around 65 per cent of the firm’s ingredients are sourced from China, which meant the company had to act quickly in order to ensure it was not left short of materials. Having negotiated this challenge, Nutrabolt was then presented with a precipitous drop-off in sales as a result of lockdowns and gym closures. Thankfully, the firm knew that it could rely on its well-established supply network to help make it through.

“Back in March and April, everything moved so fast, but our strategies and ideas happened even faster,” Brendan says. “We had a mountain of raw materials because we’d made sure we insulated ourselves against a shortage, so it was really about buckling down financially and making some hard decisions internally on how best to weather the storm. A lot of that came back on our co-manufacturers and we worked with them to produce what we could, strategically peeling down those amounts, and cooperating over payment terms and financial obligations. We became very orchestrated, right up to now when the floodgates have reopened and we have started to get back to normal. When times were toughest though, collaboration and partnership helped all of us through it.”

What then is the key to creating vendor and co-manufacturer relationships strong enough to withstand a global pandemic? Brendan deems that, like any relationship, it is important to build upon core pillars of trust, communication and respect.Nutrabolt b

“We really treat our co-manufacturers as an extension of our own company,” he insists. “From the beginning, I go through a very meticulous operational vetting process to make sure they are a viable fit from both an operational need and a business continuity purpose. Some of the questions I ask are tough, but they are the right questions because it sets up something mutually beneficial and protects us and them from a failed relationship. It’s all about building up that trust, respect and communication up front and maintaining it throughout.

“At the end of the day, our product is just a bunch of ingredients formulated into a jar or a can,” Brendan adds. “We are not a manufacturer ourselves, we are a distributor. Whether it be on the co-manufacturing side, on the raw materials end, or even in packaging, without our partners we would not have a product. These partnerships and these relationships are the true magic behind Nutrabolt.”

As Brendan suggests, collaboration is an essential part of how Nutrabolt operates, but the company still has to find a way to keep customers returning for more of its products and this is made possible through the firm’s strong brand ethos. Every product released at Nutrabolt is supported by exhaustive market research and a meticulous stage gate review process. Now available in over 100 countries, the company’s range of drinks and powders has thrived on a global scale thanks to a two-pronged focus on flavor and packaging.

“Firstly, if a product doesn’t consistently taste good, the customer is not going to want to buy it again. We do a lot of R&D work around flavoring and invest a lot of money into that area because we want to have the best tasting products out there,” Brendan claims. “We also spare no expense on packaging. We work with a label supplier that has won awards through our partnership and we were one of the first companies to come out with a chrome-look bottle that many of our competitors have since copied. Strong brand presence like that creates easy recognition and sustained brand loyalty.”

Always looking to evolve, Nutrabolt aims to introduce BlueJay Solutions software and a new ERP system into the business in 2021. The addition of both programs is part of a wider investment into improving the sophistication and formality of operations on the freight and warehousing side of the business. Brendan also hopes that the company can now start building on the many lessons it has learnt in 2020.

“Having adapted to the challenges of a difficult year, we are not just going to rest on our laurels,” he asserts. “We are going to press down on the gas and I am very excited and optimistic that this company can really come out of this virus even stronger.”

The progress Brendan covets will be measured by how much further the company can expand, supported in 2021 by plans for more targeted consumer research and a digital footprint set to shape Nutrabolt’s brand identity.

“We will continue to enable global availability through distribution and key account placement,” Brendan reveals. “Eventually, I can see our beverage business meeting, if not exceeding, our powder business. At present, it is achieving around half the amount of powder sales, but it fits nicely as a niche functional beverage for someone looking for a Red Bull or coffee alternative, as well as those working out and staying active. In that sense, it has double the consumer exposure of our powders and so I can see it eclipsing them within the next three to five years.”

Over the coming months, Brendan and his team will continue to lead Nutrabolt on its unwavering growth trajectory, paying careful attention to the remaining industry uncertainties brought about by Coronavirus – aluminum cans, for example, have been in short supply. Still, Nutrabolt is a company built on people and relationships, and no matter what the year ahead holds in store, the firm knows that it will always be able to rely on its workforce and close supply network.

“A company is really just a collection of people. It is a company’s workforce that really establishes its culture,” Brendan remarks. “We are lucky that there is a lot of self-motivation in our workforce, which has been especially evident throughout this difficult time, and that self-motivation makes Nutrabolt what it is. Every employee here truly embodies the brand. We like the products, we use the products, and we brag about the products. Our people want the business to do well and as a result, we have a company that is full of dedication, passion, determination, and a competitive spirit. These ideals sum up Nutrabolt and they come from the top down, starting with our CEO, and resonating throughout the whole organization.”

Nutrabolt
www.nutrabolt.com
Products: Sports nutrition drinks

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